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Broadening Standards Discussion

In case you’ve missed them somehow, read Keith’s post ‘Sick of Web Standards’ and Simon’s, ‘Embracing Best Practices’. This comes as the first opportunity for me to write about standards and so I took it. My thoughts on the ‘dullness of web standards’, broadening the standards scope to the general title of ‘Best Practices’ and the general future of standards.

Personally, I don’t find standards dull. Well sure, ploughing through the web’s rather arcane documentation is pretty boring, but the general idea of a standard isn’t at all! I love the utopian idea that my documents will port to any browser, platform, character set, whatever. This is a still a pipe dream, but the potential is there. Talking about achieving this ideal is not boring, in my opinion.

I’m not a ‘real world’ kind of guy (I know people will shoot down this argument because of those few words, but it’s the truth). I prefer the theoretical to the practical, and I’d rather perfect the standards themselves than talk about how to get them recognised, but that’s not how the rest of the world works. We must act. Whether this means talking to Macromedia, Microsoft and so on, or standards protests (as Andrei mentioned) standards are still not in the recognised position they should be.

Talking about ‘Best Practices’ isn’t really going to help this case. I’ve been told ‘They are Just Tools‘ but I disagree. They are not ‘just tools’. They are the tool, they are the multipurpose screwdriver/hammer/wallpaper stripper that every web developer should have in their toolbox. They are the fastest, the easiest and most effecient way to perfect interopability.

I don’t want to discuss general ideas on how to write better pages. I want campaigns to get the tool we already have established sold. Above all else, I don’t want to ever worry about another incomprehensible CSS support problem. Never again care about graceful degration. We shouldn’t even have to mention the names of browsers when developing.

What’s the best way to accomplish this? Not Best Practices. Web Standards. Don’t give up now. Lets give them the attention they really deserve.